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The ABCs of Seismic Surveys: Part Two

The Law Office of C. William Smalling, P.C. Oct. 26, 2018

Seismic surveys are used to produce images of rock types and their locations beneath the ground. These surveys are utilized by oil and gas companies to determine the location and size of gas and oil reservoirs. The process, which involves bouncing and recording sound waves off of underground rock formations, provides surveyors with valuable information about rock types and the availability of fluids and gases underground. Seismic surveys have three phases: data acquisition, data processing, and data interpretation. In this two-part series, we examine seismic surveys in detail.

Data Acquisition

The first step in the seismic survey process is data acquisition. 3D seismic surveys are acquired by laying out energy source and receiver points in a grid over the target survey area. When data is acquired onshore, the energy source for a seismic survey is either a large vehicle or an explosive charge that causes the ground to vibrate. The area covered by the 3D grid must be bigger than the subsurface area to be imaged in order to provide sufficient data for accurate interpration of the subsurface geology. 3D surveys typically cover between 50 to 100 square miles and above.

Data Processing

Seismic survey data usually arrives in an unprocessed form. Therefore, before it can be used, it must be filtered through a number of computerized processes. Examples of such processes include stacking, filtering, and migrating. In fact, processing technology has become so sophisticated that seismic data acquired in the past is often reprocessed to create exploration opportunities that were previously unavailable. Data processing can be quite expensive. In fact, data from a single 3D survey can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Data Interpretation

The last phase of the seismic survey process involves the interpretation of the collected data. Given the fact that data interpretation is highly subjective, this part of the process is the most prone to human error. And although the use of 3D seismic technology has reduced this risk, it has not been eliminated completely.  

Texas Oil and Gas Attorney

Oil and gas laws are always changing. Therefore, it’s imperative that those involved in the energy industry have reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable legal representation to help guide them through the ever-changing energy landscape. In the areas of oil and gas, it’s particularly important to ensure that all contracts are properly drafted. Oil and gas contracts are sophisticated documents, and it’s important that they be drafted in a manner that ensures the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. At the Law Office of C. William Smalling, P.C., we are highly experienced in the drafting and review of such contracts, including joint operating agreements, farm-out agreements, master service agreements, drilling contracts, licensing agreements for use of seismic or technical data, and nondisclosure agreements. If you are in need of expert oil and gas legal representation, contact us today for a consultation.